During the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC, co-anchor Tamron Hall attacked Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for travel expenses, going so far as to compare the issue to the scandal involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: "Well, it kind of reminds you of another governor who fought the stimulus and then we found out was using taxpayer dollars to travel. And that Governor was? Sanford."
At the top of the segment, co-anchor David Shuster declared: "In today’s ‘Making Your Case,’ another governor is in hot water for traveling on the taxpayers dime." Hall explained the reason for Jindal being in "hot water": "...claims that the Governor used a taxpayer-funded helicopter to attend Sunday services 14 times at a variety of locations across the state over a five-month period. Total cost, $45,000."
In reality, as the Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate reported, the Louisiana Governor was invited to speak at those church services and met with public officials: "Even though he travels on Sundays, Jindal said he schedules meetings with local officials when he flies to church services. On July 5, for example, his office reported that the governor met with citizens, attended a meeting with local officials and went to church in Monroe. Jindal was back in Monroe four days later to meet with community leaders as part of his ‘Louisiana Working Tour.’"
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer got reaction to Ted Kennedy’s death from left-wing Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, who touted the Senator’s importance in the 2008 campaign: "Of course Barack Obama had the wings of hope and the winds of possibility behind him, but Ted Kennedy was an awful powerful gust of wind that gave him a necessary lift."
Dyson, who was not identified as liberal, went on to describe Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama as coronation: "This was a man of American royalty bestowing upon Mr. Obama, if you will, the mantle of that kind of liberal leadership...I think that Senator Kennedy identified in Barack Obama the same hopefulness that he had seen glowing in the face of his brother John and radiating from the heart of his brother Robert."
Dyson continued to glorify Kennedy and Obama quasi-religous terms:
Some of us have been wondering how viable the Voluntary Employee Benefit Arrangements (VEBAs) set up by the United Auto Workers for its auto industry employees really are. This is of particular concern at the VEBAs tied in to General Motors and Chrysler. What happens to the employer stock these VEBAs own will heavily influence whether they have the money to pay promised benefits.
The answer to the viability question must be "not very," because the House version of health care that has made it out of committee has a $10 billion provision tucked into it that would largely work to back the VEBAs up in case GM and Chrysler are never able to stand on their own -- or in case other high-wage, high-benefit companies, many of which are unionized, follow them into serious financial difficulty.
Maybe it's because $10 billion doesn't mean much any more in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, but media coverage of this "little" provision has been very, very light. A Google News search on "retiree health care UAW" (not typed in quotes) came back with only about 25 relevant items of roughly 100 total results earlier this afternoon. Many of those results are outraged editorials and op-eds. There is precious little original news coverage of the topic.
One of the few examples of original coverage is an August 24 report by Justin Hyde and Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press that explains the provision and provides background:
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer fondly remembered Ted Kennedy, exclaiming: "In a sense he was the classic American hero, the imperfect man who was sorely tested and yet in that testing found a way to overcome personal flaws and go on to accomplish great things."
Schieffer began his commentary by noting how Kennedy: "...crashed and crashed again during the early turns of his life, but somehow he kept on going through the sorrows and tragedies over which he had no control and the self-destructiveness over which he did. And in the final laps he won. His children loved him. His contemporaries, even those who often opposed him, admired him. And those whose causes he championed thanked him. To what else can a man aspire?"
In addition to touting the Senator as an "American hero," Schieffer praised his liberal legislative accomplishments: "The thousands of laws that he authored changed the lives of millions who were less fortunate, a legacy few can match....You didn’t have to agree with his politics to appreciate what he achieved. Ted Kennedy made a difference."
Speaking with Ted Kennedy’s niece, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith wondered: "Does a Kennedy belong in your uncle’s old Senate seat?" Townsend replied: "I think if my brother, Joe, wanted to run, I think he’d put up a great race and be a great Senator, but there are a lot of people who can carry on Senator Kennedy’s legacy."
Just prior to that question, Townsend had boasted: "And I think what we saw over the last few days is that people said ‘Ted Kennedy, I don’t know how you got to be Senator, but when you were there, you did more than any other senator in American history.’"
Appearing on MSNBC’s New York Times Edition on Friday, the paper’s ‘Week in Review’ editor, Sam Tanenhaus, lamented one of Ted Kennedy’s flaws: "There’s a further paradox to this, which is we sometimes forget, I mean, all of the wonderful things being said about this extraordinary figure Edward Kennedy, that he was partly accountable for Ronald Reagan’s ascendency."
Previewing his latest New York Times column on Kennedy to host John Harwood in the 2:00PM ET hour, Tanenhaus went on to explain: "Ted Kennedy challenged the incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter, in 1980 and weakened him in that election and that brought Reagan into power."
Just prior to that declaration, Tanenhaus praised Kennedy for his "idea of governance [that] was really premised in the big vision of New Deal liberalism. That all the forces of government could be marshaled to improve the conditions for the greatest number of people, in particular, the excluded and the disadvantaged." In contrast, Tanenhaus claimed "the great Republican leaders, beginning with Barry Goldwater and really capped by Ronald Reagan, had no interest in governance. Ronald Reagan said government is not the solution, it’s the problem."
At the top of the 8AM ET hour of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell wondered if Ted Kennedy’s death could "spur Congress to pass a health care reform bill?" Correspondent Nancy Cordes answered that question: "Kennedy’s death, in a way, gives new life to health care legislation, which has really taken a beating the past few weeks at town halls across the country."
Cordes went on to declare: "Supporters of health care reform say they’re going to fight even harder to achieve Kennedy’s dying wish, universal healthcare. With Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia even suggesting that the legislation be named after the late great lawmaker."
Earlier on the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Utah Senator and Kennedy friend Orrin Hatch, and asked about the "dying wish" of the Massachusetts Senator: "I’d be willing to bet that he would be smiling down on the capital if Republicans and Democrats could finally compromise to fulfill his dream of health care reform. Do you think that Senator Kennedy’s passing could be the impetus that could finally make that happen, or do you think that the only bridge builder who could have done that is gone now?"
Sounding like a close friend or relative of Senator Ted Kennedy, at the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "A life that was able to bring friends and enemies together....We’ll hear from one of those foes who became a friend as we broadcast from the John f. Kennedy Presidential Library where the body of Uncle Teddy will arrive today and lie in repose."
Moments later, Rodriguez continued the unusually personal reporting on the death of the Massachusetts Senator: "This place dedicated to a slain American president will today serve as a shrine to his younger brother, a beloved American senator....we were joking here that we think all this wind today is sort of fitting for the Kennedys. The tousled hair, a perfect day for sailing, a wonderful day for the Kennedy family and the public to gather here, at this of all places, to remember Ted Kennedy. Sort of symbolic, Chris, I think, of the older brother looking down, looking after the younger brother."
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been out of office over a month and there are still those working at major media outlets that just can't get over their obsessions with dissecting everything the former GOP vice-presidential nominee does.
During the 2:00AM ET hour of CBS’s Up to the Minute on Wednesday, shortly after news broke of Senator Ted Kenney’s death, historian Douglas Brinkley exclaimed the Massachusetts Democrat was: "...going to be a – a martyr because of all that he’s done and he very well might help, in death, Obama get his health care plan."
Fill-in anchor Michelle Gielan discussed Kennedy’s legacy with Brinkley, soon turning to the current debate over health care reform: "And one of those causes that he was championing was health care reform, and yet, he had to sit out these last few months. How difficult was that for him?" Brinkley began his response: "Well, it was very difficult for him....he’s been forced to be sidelined and unable to talk at town hall meetings. It’s been hard not to watch the nightly news and kind of wish that you had a fiery old Ted Kennedy there, arguing his points for universal health care, it could have made a difference."
Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades HQ has a great "name that party" catch today. Malor noted that at least three major news outlets all failed to note the high-powered Democratic Party ties of one Hassan Nemazee, a businessman arrested this morning on a charge of bank fraud against Citigroup:
Reporting on the First Family vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, CBS reporter Chip Reid excitedly exclaimed: "One thing that’s going to give a huge boost to the economy is all the Obama paraphernalia...t-shirts, it’s baseball caps and magnets and coffee mugs and glasses. And restaurants are selling the ‘Baracko Taco.’ Bars are selling ‘Ale to the Chief.’ And all of it is selling like crazy."
Reporting for Monday’s CBS Early Show, Reid actually held up a number of Obama t-shirts while reciting the litany of presidential souvenirs for sale on the Massachusetts resort island. He concluded his report by declaring: "So if the President wanted to find someplace where he would be welcomed with open arms, he sure found it here in Martha’s Vineyard." Early Show co-host Russ Mitchell remarked: "Part of the Martha’s Vineyard stimulus plan, I guess." Reid agreed: "Exactly."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed commentator Dick Morris about his latest book critical of the Obama administration, Catastrophe. After reading the book’s full title, Rodriguez observed: "This title, though, Mr. Morris, can’t you see a lot of people dismissing it right off the bat as alarmist? It screams at you."
In response, Morris pointed out the dire state of the economy: "9.5% unemployment, four quarters of negative growth, our car companies in receivership, our health care program about to be taken over, and banks being nationalized, and I’m alarmist?"
Rodriguez replied by citing recent media spin that the recession is over: "Well what about the positive indicators? Because not so long ago, it was on the cover of every magazine, the topic of every cable show and Sunday morning show, that we were kind of digging out of the recession. We saw three straight months of rising home sales, the stock market up more than 40% since March. Ford beat expectations. Doesn’t that count?"
Following MSNBC coverage of ObamaCare protesters legally carrying guns, on Thursday, the Second Amendment Foundation condemned the liberal network for "using deceptively-edited video from a Phoenix, Arizona anti-tax rally on Monday to invent a racial stereotype in its on-going effort to demonize and marginalize American firearms owners as ‘racists.’"
As NewsBusters reported on Tuesday, MSNBC correspondent Contessa Brewer, along with Morning Meeting host Dylan Ratigan and pop culture analyst Toure, depicted all gun-carrying protesters as being "white," "racist," and even a threat to President Obama’s life. Brewer cited one such gun-toting protester, but used highly edited video footage that did not reveal the man was actually African-American.
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Daniel Sieberg reported on a young global warming activist from California: "...everyday citizens of all ages are doing their part to raise awareness of climate change....15-year-old Alec Loorz takes his message across the country, using poles to illustrate the predicted sea level rise if nothing is done to prevent global warning."
At one point, Loorz declared: "All of lower Manhattan would be underwater." That’s not the first time such a claim was made on the CBS morning news program. On November 5, 2007, Early Show co-host Harry Smith interviewed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg about a proposal to impose a national carbon tax and declared that "Manhattan will be underwater by 2050" if global warming was left unchecked.
On Wednesday, Sieberg went on to tout Loorz’s activism: "Alec’s voice also has the support of a former vice president. At the age of just 12, he applied to be part of Al Gore’s network of official speakers. It took some persistence, but eventually, Alec was accepted....And Alec’s cool factor certainly isn’t lost on his friends and family members."
On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer fretted over health care reform protesters legally carrying guns: "A man at a pro-health care reform rally...wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip....there are questions about whether this has racial overtones....white people showing up with guns."Brewer failed to mention the man she described was black.
Following Brewer’s report, which occurred on the Morning Meeting program, host Dylan Ratigan and MSNBC pop culture analyst Toure discussed the supposed racism involved in the protests. Toure argued: "...there is tremendous anger in this country about government, the way government seems to be taking over the country, anger about a black person being president....we see these hate groups rising up and this is definitely part of that." Ratigan agreed: "...then they get the variable of a black president on top of all these other things and that’s the move – the cherry on top, if you will, to the accumulated frustration for folks."
Not only did Brewer, Ratigan, and Toure fail to point out the fact that the gun-toting protester that sparked the discussion was black, but the video footage shown of that protester was so edited, that it was impossible to see that he was black. The man appeared at a health care rally outside of President Obama’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona.
The news isn't just that self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals nationwide. That's old hat. The big news from Gallup is that conservatives outnumber liberals in every state in the union, including supposedly uberliberal Vermont and Massachusetts.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning correspondent Martha Teichner touted President Obama’s latest PR blitz to promote health care reform: "For the third time in five days, Barack Obama used the presidential bully pulpit on behalf of what he’s now calling health insurance reform. No more letting the angry opposition control the agenda."
Teichner dismissed that "angry opposition" by declaring: "Here’s a question. Do they even know what’s in the bills currently being considered by Congress? Do you?" Teichner and two liberal supporters of the Obama health care plan proceeded to educate viewers as to what was being proposed.
She spoke with former head of the left-wing group People for the American Way, Ralph Neas, now CEO of the supposedly "non-partisan" National Coalition on Health Care that is pushing for reform. In addition, Teichner spoke with University of North Carolina Professor Jonathan Oberlander, who in a July 22 article for the liberal British newspaper The Guardian wrote: "The Obama administration is pushing Congress to enact health reform legislation this year. And against all odds, Obama may pull it off....Obama’s election, after all, is a reminder that history is not always repeated. Sometimes it is made."
In an August 14 report appearing on the front page of the paper's August 15 print edition ("Health Debate Fails to Ignite Obama’s Web"), Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (pictured at right) gave readers a fairly accurate impression, while avoiding the word, of activism turning into apathy in Barack Obama's DNC- and White House-orchestrated Organizing for America (OFA) effort.
While Zeleny's report and detailed work came out of Iowa, his key finding is intended to be a national temperature gauge: "But if a week’s worth of events are any measure here in Iowa, it may not be so easy to reignite the machine that overwhelmed Republicans a year ago."
That's why it's odd, to say the least, that Zeleny ignored the results of the nationwide reignition attempt that occurred and largely failed this past week, namely its "Office Visits for Health Reform." In fact, there are some signs that "Office Visits" did OFA's cause more harm than good.
Here are some key paragraphs from Zeleny's report:
On MSNBC Friday, anchor John Harwood spoke with New York Times Week in Review editor Sam Tanenhaus about the health care debate, wondering: "...you know an awful lot about the patron saint of modern conservatism William F. Buckley. What do you suppose Bill Buckley would think of the nature of the arguments that are being made against the Obama health care plan right now, death panels and all the rest?"
Harwood, hosting the 2:00PM ET weekly New York Times Edition broadcast, was asking about Tanenhaus’s upcoming book, ‘The Death of Conservatism.’ Tanenhaus argued: "Well, you know, one of the great contributions Bill Buckley made to conservatism was to move it toward the center. And one way he did that was to repudiate in a very forceful way what was then called the lunatic fringe."
At that time, Harwood interjected: "The John Birch Society." Tanenhaus continued: "And they weren’t necessarily a dangerous group, but what they did was discredit serious conservative arguments." He then made the comparison to the current health care debate: "...and we may see in the days ahead where serious responsible Republicans and conservative thinkers say if they’re going to make a forceful argument the country can accept, they’ll have to cut themselves off from this more extreme view."
Harwood concluded: "Well, it’s an interesting point. It’s – I don’t see right now anybody cutting off that extreme view all that much."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on dispelling myths about health care reform: "There’s so much anger, this vitriol that we see day after day in these town meetings across the country....We’re going to try and determine this morning whether or not some of these bold statements are, in fact, true or not."
Smith turned to Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of the left-wing magazine, The New Republic, to find the "truth" about the President’s health care plan. Smith made no mention of Cohn’s political affiliation or the magazine’s liberal leanings but did find time to promote his guest’s latest book: "Jonathan Cohn is senior editor of The New Republic and author ‘Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis And The People Who Pay The Price.’"
On Wednesday, Cohn wrote an article for The New Republic entitled: "The Swiftboating of Health Reform," in which he attacked conservative critics of the health care plan: "It’d be one thing if the lunatics on the right had a coherent argument for why these initiatives might be ineffective or counterproductive. But they don’t even bother to acknowledge them, preferring instead to throw out scare quotes like this one from [Sarah] Palin: ‘Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course.’"
Topside Update, 2:15 p.m.: Imagine that -- Roxana Mayer was also an Organizing For America "host" during the Texas primary last year.
Anyone visiting here even semi-regularly knows that the establishment media consistently fails to determine the legitimacy of people who "say the right things." Further, when someone else, often a blogger, digs and finds the truth, the reporters and publications involved may sometimes grudgingly acknowledge it, but even then usually incompletely; and more often than not, they won't give credit where due.
This all-too-typical scenario has played out in the past two days in the case of a certain Roxana Mayer. In two posts (here and here), LA-area blogger Patterico, best known for his relentless skewering of the target-rich environment known as the Los Angeles Times, exposed Ms. Mayer, who claimed to be a doctor when she spoke at a town hall meeting held by Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (and who later hugged her, as seen at the top right), as a leftist fraud.
As Patterico noted in the title of his second post, Mayer's mantra ought to be "I’m Not a Doctor But I Play One at Town Hall Meetings." Patterico also showed that Mayer was also a Texas Obama delegate at last year's Democratic Convention.
At first, the Houston Chronicle took Mayer's word that she is a doctor, failed to investigate her bona fides, and reported the following:
At the top of the 8:00AM ET hour of Wednesday’s Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell cited protests at health care reform town hall meetings as evidence that the debate was "turning into a nasty national shouting match."
After playing a clip of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad opposing the health care plan, Mitchell observed: "Democratic lawmakers pushing reform are being jeered at testy town hall meetings. President Obama is urging Americans to ignore those who he says are trying to scare and mislead."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "As President Obama takes his health care reform plan to the people, anger spills out all over the country." Smith later introduced a segment on President Obama’s Tuesday town hall: "First though, tempers boiled over again Tuesday in the heated debate over health care, nearly everywhere that is, except inside President Obama’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire."
"The cruelty inherent in scaring the elderly to score political points is beyond reprehensible.... [T]he sort of scurrilous campaign they are conducting--the seditious fear-mongering that is the main staple of their public diet--is a matter of profound disrespect and incivility toward the individuals whose rights they claim to cherish."
So huffed Time magazine's Joe Klein, in an August 12 Swampland blog post seething at rumors of "death panels" being provided for in health care reform legislation before Congress. Klein expressed disgust at Republicans who would seek political advantage by scaring the elderly with inaccurate and misleading rhetoric.
But one might wonder where Klein's moral indignation was during the 1990s, when the liberal media, including Time magazine, were complicit in bolstering the Democratic meme about drastic Republican "cuts" to Medicare.
As MRC archives show, the liberal media was complicit with liberal Democrats in the 1990s in scaring seniors into fearing non-existent "cuts" to Medicare. From the July 1996 MediaWatch (emphasis mine):
On Wednesday, the CBS Early Show once again feared a rise in right-wing extremism as co-host Russ Mitchell cited a report from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center: "A report out this morning says anti-government and white racist militias are regrouping around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center says it is in part a reaction to the election of America’s first black president." [Audio/video (1:21): Mp3 | WMV]
The CBS morning show touted a similar report from the liberal group on April 15, with co-host Harry Smith declaring: "The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report found 926 active hate groups in the country. That’s up more than 50% from just 2000...And they say part of it is because of the election of President Obama." Smith went on to describe how that report coincided with a controversial Homeland Security report that was released at the same time.
The Wednesday story was reported by correspondent Bob Orr, who cited anecdotal evidence:
When it comes to insulting people opposed to ObamaCare, you might say Ed Schultz has plumbed new depths . . .
On his MSNBC show this evening, Schultz branded people turning up at town halls as "dumber than Joe the Plumber." For good measure, he added a variation on the Washington Post's old canard about certain conservatives being "poor, undereducated, and easy to command."
The liberal media meme on conservative protesters at health care town halls is that they are full of vitriol, but lacking in substance. So how does Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg take on critics of ObamaCare?
But not only are opponents of ObamaCare "dead wrong," argues Steinberg, they're an un-American, if not outright traitorous "fifth column" dedicated to stopping President Obama's agenda at any cost (emphasis mine):
Reporting on Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews declared: "...she’s not always the reserved, work-aholic judge she portrayed in the Senate hearings....The judge is also known for her can't-miss Christmas parties, which included salsa dancing inside the federal court of appeals in Manhattan." [Audio/video (1:25): Mp3 | WMV]
Andrews offered a detailed report on Sotomayor’s down-to-earth personality as he spoke with her friends and colleagues: "...according to friends, like former law clerk Allison Barkoff, the Judge has a big, engaging, New York personality." Barkoff exclaimed: "She is fun. She – she works hard and she plays hard." No mention was made in the segment of Sotomayor’s infamous "wise Latina" comments.
As an example of how the newest member of the Supreme Court "plays hard" Andrews described: "Melissa Murray clerked for two federal judges, including Sotomayor, and when both judges came to Melissa’s wedding, Sotomayor challenged the other judge to a dance-off." After describing Sotomayor’s "can’t-miss" Christmas party, Andrews added: "Sotomayor knew and invited everyone in the courthouse." Barkoff explained: "The people who work in the cafeteria, the security guards, the custodians, are equally as important as her colleagues."